Resistance and Control: Statebuilding Through Rebel-Civilian Relations
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CitationLiu, Shelley. 2020. Resistance and Control: Statebuilding Through Rebel-Civilian Relations. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractWhy, and how, do victorious rebel groups consolidate power after war? I argue that rebel governments consolidate power by strategically engaging in statebuilding behavior — allocating resources towards public goods and the military — and that subnational variation in resource targeting depends on their wartime experiences. I develop a theory of organizational capacity through wartime social control. Where they exercised substantial social control over civilian life during war, rebels increased their organizational capacity by forming ties with civilians and building informal institutions. In these areas after war, the new government leverages its civilian ties with local communities to maintain control over rural strongholds at low cost. In areas where rivals established wartime civilian ties, the new government allocates resources towards violence against civilians to sever those ties and establish control. In areas where no rebel groups established wartime civilian ties, the new government deploys bureaucrats and increases spending on public goods provision to build state capacity and consolidate support. Budget constraints decrease if the new rebel government enjoys widespread wartime social control, allowing it to more efficiently target resources towards expanding its control beyond its wartime strongholds. The likelihood of consolidating power and maintaining state stability then increases.
I demonstrate support for this theory in Zimbabwe, where the incumbent party has retained control since winning the Liberation War in 1979, and in Liberia, where the victorious rebel group in the First Liberia Civil War failed to consolidate control. I combine interviews, focus groups, administrative datasets, and archival data collected during fieldwork with fine-grained census, survey, and conflict data to provide a nuanced examination of subnational variation in wartime rebel behavior and post-war governing strategies. As comparison, I further examine four additional civil wars in Burundi, Rwanda, Côte d'Ivoire, and Angola to demonstrate the importance of rebel group organizational capacity for post-war governance, independent of alternative factors. The central insight of the findings is that war and peace are all part of a longer statebuilding process: post-war statebuilding begins during war, and the new government is more likely to succeed in consolidating power if it had laid significant groundwork as a guerrilla group.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365986
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